Showing posts with label restoration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restoration. Show all posts

Sunday, May 31, 2015


St John - 1917

Nearly 100 years passed between the two photos.  The words over the arch are "The Lord Is in His Holy Temple".  The plaque holding the hymn numbers situated on the arch seems to be the same, painted white from black or a dark color, and moved to the left on the wall. Our best guess is the old picture shows a reed organ on the left in the front of the church.   

St John - 2014

When the Victorian decorations around the archway and windows were painted over, I can't say, but by 1969, when we moved to Thibodaux, the decorations were gone.  And all to the good, in my opinion, in our beautiful Greek Revival style church.
St. John's Episcopal Church is locally important because it is the oldest remaining church building of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River. The square on which it is located has been the home of the church parish since it was organized by Bishop Leonidas K. Polk on February 9, 1843. Even though the building underwent some alterations in 1856 and again in 1867-68, it is still a good example of the Greek Revival style, with its classical pilasters across the front and two sides, its entablature with dentiled cornice, and its pedimented gable end on the front. The use of the Greek Revival style for St. John's Church, probably due to its 1840's date of construction, separates it somewhat at least visually from the other Episcopal churches started by Bishop Polk in Louisiana. Most, if not all, of these other churches, which were built in the mid-nineteenth century, are believed to be in the Gothic Revival style.
St. John's suffered interior damage from occupation by Federal troops during the Civil War. Services were suspended at that time. The church was repaired and refurbished after the Civil War, and a recessed chancel was built in 1867-68, with a stained glass window in the west wall, at a cost of $1,500.00 This was the last structural change to the fabric of St. John's Church, although the original stained glass window was replaced in 1937 by the present one. The exterior brick received a cumulative layer of yellow paint, covering the soft red brick until 1969 when it was removed. Thus, St. John's Episcopal Church now appears to passersby on Jackson Street as it did in the mid-nineteenth century.
A closer view of the stained glass window

Sometime later than the old picture, an enclosed choir stall was built where the organ stands, but, in a later restoration, the stall was removed to open up the space and return the chancel to its lovely original symmetry.

Today, the organ console is in the right front of the church, and in the left front stands a fine Yamaha grand piano on loan to the church for our use in services and for the use of visiting musicians in the Music at St John series.

Organ console

The pipes for the 1893 Ferrand & Votey organ, situated in the loft of the church, are shown below.

Further information on the pipe organ may be found here.

My original intention was a simple compare and contrast of the interior of the church then and now, but the post turned into a tour de force of St John's Church.  I'm not called the long-winded lady without reason.  Below is a picture of the exterior of the church, in the event you're curious after seeing the rest of the photos.  As you see, the bricks have, once again, been painted, this time white.

Thus endeth the tour.

Friday, December 12, 2014


A group of women who restored a 19th century Voodoo queen's tomb are now working in a Thibodaux cemetery.

Employees of the New Orleans-based Bayou Preservation will be at St. John's Episcopal Cemetery off of Jackson Street on Saturday. They said this will be their fourth visit since the church hired them to restore some of the tombs, some of which are 100 years or older.
That's our cemetery, next to St John's Episcopal Church.  St. John's is not just the burial spot for members of our church but, for many years, was and is known as the Protestant cemetery for the Thibodaux area. Older tombs are falling apart, and are now being restored through the restoration project, which began several years ago and continues now as funds are available.

The cloud of witnesses in the cemetery is filled with peaceful spirits, and it's a lovely spot to meditate. On a day of prayer and quiet time St John's, I spent the breaks for time alone for contemplation in the cemetery, but I was not really alone.

Saturday, December 21, 2013



This past Tuesday evening I attended a beautiful service of Evensong to rededicate the pipe organ at St John's Episcopal Church.  The 1893 Ferrand & Votey organ was repaired and restored by Redman Pipe Organs.  The pipes in the loft of the church were moved forward to give them a more prominent placement.

The organ console is old but new to St John's.  The original console was not salvageable, so the first restoration included a newly-built console.  In the latest restoration, the working parts are enclosed in the antique console, which was originally painted white and only in need of a new coat of paint.  The style of the piece fits perfectly with the architectural style of the church.

Fr Ron Clingenpeel, our interim priest-in-charge for two years, returned to St John's to take the service which was all-around wonderful.  Our very own organist, LaDonna Alexander, played beautifully, along with Carol Britt, Head of the Department of Music at Nicholls State University.  Dr Britt's Postlude performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's "In Dulci Jubilio" was splendid, indeed.
Funds for the renovation of the organ came from a grant by the Lorio Foundation in memory of long-time St John parishioner, George Dickie, pictured at left.

The organ, along with the people who attended the service, made a joyful noise unto the Lord Tuesday evening.